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Ride’em hard, Okinawa bull riding contest is crowd pleaser

By: KC

Date Posted: 2001-07-07

A two-day annual Okinawa Bull Riding Association rodeo contest was held at Western World in Okinawa City over the weekend. Regardless of the intense sun and heat, many people, both U.S. Military and local nationals took part in the competition. Some even suggested that last weekend’s sweltering heat made just the right conditions for a rodeo contest.

In the competition participants get points depending on how violently the bull moves, and how skillfully the rider stays on its back. The competition was very heated and exciting to both riders and audience.

The winner of the two-day competition was Kevin Julian, 23, a Marine. He said that this was the third time for him to participate in the rodeo. Afterwards he confessed that the secret for his winning was very simple. “I just hang in there for dear life, and I did not think of anything. I was lucky to win an energetic bull to ride on in the pre-competition lottery so that I could gain many points,” Julian said. He went on to say that, “This was a good competition, a real rodeo like back home.”

“Good feeling” said TJ Steele, a 19-year-old Marine who won the second place. He feels that he is almost like a professional rodeo rider after riding in rodeos for six years. The third place winner Craig Lau, a 21-year-old Marine, said, “The competition was pretty exciting, and I still feel lots of adrenaline rushing in.”

Among many Americans, there were some Japanese riders too. 27-year old Tomohiro Sugihara from Osaka, confessed that he is an ardent fan of country music. “In the lyrics, they sing a lot of rodeo, and that made me yearning to take part in one,” he said. He confessed that, “In the beginning, I was scared of the bull, but once I started riding, I enjoyed the whole experience second by second. And the riding was extremely fun.”

An Okinawan rider, Shujiro Uema from Naha City said he often comes to the Western World and enjoys riding on their rodeo machine. That was what finally tempted him to join the real rodeo. He joked after his ride that “It was scary, but I now will not be scared of my boss anymore.”

The Japanese riders also praised the mostly American audience. “Even when we fell from the bull, every American in the audience cheered us up, and said, you did pretty well. That made us feel proud of ourselves,” Sugihara said.

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